It said its article was based on interviews with more than 50 people, including current and ex-Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members.
Gaspard said he was "shocked" by the report.
"But at bottom, this is not about George Soros or the foundations".
In contrast to Facebook's pledges in years gone by to simply "make the world more open and connected", and long-held tech industry assumptions that good speech will triumph over bad in the marketplace of ideas, Zuckerberg agreed that sensationalist, damaging posts can engage more users than positive content.
Among other demands, Color of Change called on Facebook to apologise, to terminate its public policy chief and publish all the opposition research material it compiled about the group and others.
Facebook said it ended its contract with Definers on Wednesday, Nov. 14, after the Times report was published, but the company didn't offer an explicit reason for terminating its association with the PR firm.
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Sandberg also wielded her high-ranking position at Facebook to personally appeal to lawmakers in Washington and state attorneys general, the report said, in the hope of curtailing regulations and investigations targeting the social network.
The company has faced criticism for lacking transparency in how and why it removes content. Facebook earlier this year announced some of its protocols for removing content.
Soros, who is often the target of anti-Semitism, has been critical of Facebook before.
When criticism of its belated Russian Federation admission grew, Facebook mounted a lobbying campaign led by Sandberg.
Facebook responded by lobbying a Jewish civil rights group - the Anti-Defamation League - to publicly label that criticism as anti-Semitic, the Times said. "Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros".
"These efforts appear to have been part of a deliberate strategy to distract from the very real accountability problems your company continues to grapple with", wrote Patrick Gaspard, the president of the Open Society Foundations, a philanthropic organisation founded by Soros.
Speaking about Cooks views, Zuckerberg said they were "extremely glib" and added: "I think it's important that we don't all get Stockholm syndrome and let the companies that work hard to charge you more convince you that they actually care more about you". The quotes arrived during Facebook's Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal, where the personal data of around 87 million Facebook users was alleged to have been improperly shared with the analytics company. Instead, he said he read the news along with everybody else (and then immediately cut those ties).